Blinn College, Texas A&M celebrate RELLIS Campus groundbreaking
Educators, legislators, and elected officials from across the Brazos Valley and the State of Texas joined Blinn College and The Texas A&M University System to celebrate Blinn’s groundbreaking at the RELLIS Campus on Friday, March 31.
Guest speakers included Blinn College District President/CEO Dr. Mary Hensley, Blinn College Board of Trustees President David Sommer, Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp, U.S. Representative Bill Flores, Senator Charles Schwertner, Senator Lois W. Kolkhorst, Representative John Raney, Representative Leighton Schubert, Representative Ernest Bailes, Representative Terry Wilson, and Texas Association of Community Colleges Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Dr. Steve Johnson.
Also in attendance were Texas A&M University System Regents Charles Schwartz and Judy Morgan, and Blinn College Trustees Teddy Boehm, Atwood Kenjura, Charles Moser, Richard Powell, and Tammy Spohn.
In May 2016, Chancellor Sharp announced plans to create a new research and development campus to help companies move ideas from the laboratory to the marketplace, while also offering a new path toward a college degree. One aspect of the RELLIS Campus plan involves the development of a multi-institutional Gateway Education Center that will provide space for Texas A&M System member institutions and Blinn to offer a variety of curricula.
“This relationship between The Texas A&M University System and Blinn College is literally the envy of community colleges and universities all over the United States of America,” Sharp said. “This is how you make sure that students take courses that transfer – you talk to each other, and that is what these two institutions have been doing for 30 or 40 years.”
The new campus establishes a new educational community combining a major university system and a community college at a single physical location. This co-location will allow Blinn College students to transfer seamlessly to leading universities throughout The Texas A&M System in the years to come.
“I want to commend and congratulate The Texas A&M University System and Blinn College for what they are doing here today,” Flores said. “What they are launching is a transformational enterprise that will move education forward in this country. The ability to take the research of Texas A&M and to meld it with a community college will create an educational outcome that truly equips the workforce of the future.”
Blinn’s four-story building will span 83,000 square feet and include 18 classrooms and eight laboratories. Construction is scheduled to be completed in time for the Fall 2018 semester.
“RELLIS represents a landmark in the history of Texas higher education as The Texas A&M System and Blinn College take an unprecedented step in a partnership that sets the standard for university and community college collaboration,” Sommer said.
Said Hensley, “RELLIS is a vision that could never come to fruition without the foresight of leaders such as Chancellor Sharp, a commitment to collaboration, and a fearlessness that inspires us to develop an educational model that has never before been attempted in the State of Texas.”
The site creates opportunities for Blinn to partner with other organizations and institutions located on the RELLIS Campus, including high-end, innovative, private research and development companies, the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES), and the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX).
“Texas A&M and Blinn College have long demonstrated how collaboration between institutions can lead to game-changing results for the people of Texas,” Schwertner said.
Located adjacent to State Highway 47 and Highway 21, the RELLIS Campus is named for the Texas Aggies’ core values of respect, excellence, leadership, loyalty, integrity, and selfless service.
In December 2016, Blinn and TEEX announced a Memorandum of Understanding outlining their partnership to meet Brazos County’s growing demand for workforce training programs. Per the agreement, TEEX and Blinn will work together to provide training for the targeted occupations identified specifically by the Workforce Solutions Brazos Valley Board and as confirmed by each institution’s market research related to training needs in the Brazos Valley. Other facilities on the RELLIS Campus will house these programs.
Blinn College and Texas A&M University have a proud history of developing innovative partnerships. Since 2001, the Texas A&M-Blinn TEAM (Transfer Enrollment at A&M) Program has served as the nation’s model for a collaborative, co-enrollment partnership between a major university and a community college. The TEAM Program has allowed thousands of additional qualified students to earn their degree from Texas A&M while enjoying the benefits of enrollment at both institutions, and in 2014 the program received the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s coveted Star Award as one of the top educational initiatives in Texas.
Texas A&M and Blinn built upon the TEAM Program’s success with the Texas A&M Engineering Academy at Blinn-Bryan and the Texas A&M Engineering Academy at Blinn-Brenham, offering students additional pathways to pursue an engineering degree from Texas A&M and helping to meet the nationwide demand for highly skilled engineering graduates.
For more information regarding Blinn’s role at the RELLIS Campus, visit www.blinn.edu/RELLIS.
About Blinn College
With an enrollment of 19,422 students, Blinn ranks among the nation’s leaders in transferring students to leading four-year universities and has received national recognition for affordable educational excellence. For more information, visit www.blinn.edu.